Those clever Oreo creatives! They get the best ad during the Super Bowl for FREE! (Remember when they tweeted during the blackout!) They are killing it in social media. And then, they delight my Monday addled eyes with a splash of fun and color in the oldest media form known to mankind (next to carving ads in stones). Art direction! Copywriting! Media planning! Bold thinking! They blast a full page ad in the … newspaper! It’s different. It’s fun. It’s bold. It doesn’t matter what it says. What it says is, “We’re Oreo, we’re here, we’re proud, say it loud!” And it made me think an Oreo might just go well with coffee at breakfast.
You might say it’s a wake-up call.
I was talking with a young, talented producer at a major (Big 5) international ad agency last night. You would kill to have this 24 year old (24 YEAR OLD!!!) on your staff. As a way of checking in on that state of things, I asked him to describe his typical day.
Fasten your seat belts.
He gets in two hours before the “creatives.” He starts to answer the almost 200 e-mails he’s got in his in box from the past NIGHT! He starts to chart on the eight or nine projects he’s working on. (Not like in the good old days, he says, a year and half ago when he started, when he could work on one project at a time.)
What kind of projects? I ask.
A couple of radio productions, a few websites in various stages of design and wireframe, some web banners, putting some reels together for a big new business pitch, re-cutting some old TV spots, bidding out some new ones.
Does this kid have time to eat? Much less take a “bio break?”
The reasons are clear. The agency, which shall not be named, has shrunk. More work is being piled on. Even the once untouchable art directors and copywriters are supposed to be able to play almost any position on the field — from radio to TV to web to print to promotions.
He did mention they do have some kind of bar, or some way to get drinks in the afternoon, around 4.
They need it.
(Although, to be fair, it does remind me of my days when I was running my own shop after I left the cocoon of major agency-dom.)
More on this topic later…I’m exhausted just remembering it…
We like lots of things.
A building. A sandwich. A shirt. A TV show.
We only love a handful of things. That building we’ve always wanted to live in. That incredible sandwich we’ll probably never be able to find again that we had from a street cart in L.A. That shirt that’s getting frayed and tattered but always makes us feel great when we wear it.
The difference between “like” and “love” is not a number. It’s not even how it’s made, or how much it costs, or how often we get it. Or, to put it another way — it’s all in the mind. (Heart.)
So much of what we try to communicate has such small, or complex, differences — and people are so busy — we have to look at what makes people sit up and take notice. What makes people go from “I like it,” (which means you’ll pretty much be a commodity, or, same difference, invisible,) is “coolness.”
Fun. Clever. Enjoyable. Delight.
You have to know what you’re saying, to whom, when, and how. But, even with that, you have to turn your message into that amazing shirt that makes them feel so good. That makes them love it.
It’s not easy. Or scientific. But it’s the only thing that works. Really works.
I’m just sayin’…
Have a great weekend.
And, what’s more, these days it’s where and when you say it too. Is your message for Tacos more relevant on a mobile phone or as a tweet? Does a political solicitation get more traction at four in the afternoon, or does it connect more with people who are surfing the internet at 4 in the morning when they can’t sleep?
Big data can tell us this. We can follow patterns of behavior that show us the strange and wonderful ways that people act — at least when dealing with a screen — and that can inform us about PAST BEHAVIOR.
But that’s not the final be all and end all. Or as they are forced to say in the investment ads, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Add where and when people connect with where and when and how and, most important, why they’ll act. Tomorrow.
And the crazy thing. We can’t know. The suspense, and promise, of the next thing is what keeps us going. So use data to uncover unexpected behavior patterns (for example, something like, “why do so many hunters in the Great North Woods buy Avon ‘Skin So Soft’ hand cream?*)
But use planning, and strategy, and guessing, and heart, to change the way people behave tomorrow.
* The answer on the Skin So Soft question: The stuff scares the hell out of mosquitos! Go figure.
I noticed an ad the other day for a radical remaking of “The Lone Ranger.” Of course, in Hollywood, there is nothing new over the sun, and the wild masks and inevitable insane music track should make this “interesting,” but what I’m really happy about is that the term, “Silver Bullet” will come back into common parlance. I hope. Because even though we don’t use it so much, we certainly believe in it — the one, magic, powerful shot that cures it all. Which brings me to the future of Internet advertising — or, actually, all advertising.
Because Oreo’s — humble, lowly, unscrew ’em and eat ’em Oreo’s — are showing us a possible way forward. Someone over at the Twitter Switch over at Oreo is doing something very right. We all know about how they Tweeted IMMEDIATELY during the Super Bowl Blackout. The most brilliant Super Bowl ad wasn’t an ad, and didn’t cost a dime. Then, last week, they got into a Twitter Tussle with Twix (that has a ring to it…) You can Google it, but trust me — it’s all reacting AT THE MOMENT. That makes particularly good use of the IMMEDIATE and CHEAPO CHEAPO attributes of web media, and the web experience.
A couple of pieces of the unraveling puzzle? I think so.
And I’m not talking about the 15 minutes of fame quote, which, while cool sounding, never really made that much sense to me. No, I think I found an even better one. I was watching a TED talk with Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy and he name-checked a 1975 quote from Andy Warhol, artist and visionary. The guts of the quote — “A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke…” And this is also the thing about the Internet, and this blog, and every blog — it’s a wall-breaker-downer-machine. And that raised a question in my mind — can you create a brand, an irrational but powerful benefit — for specific bits and bobs on the Internet? Not just aggregating content, but new content? New destinations that deliver good feelings, regardless of the content they are delivering?
Now, while I let the coffee kick in (Peet’s), I’ll ponder this. Thanks Andy.
(btw — another favorite Warhol quote I’ve carried around in my mind for years, from an interview in the Village Voice I think, “My favorite restaurant in the world? The McDonald’s on the Ginza in Tokyo — because the food there tastes exactly like the stuff I get at the McDonald’s across the street from my studio in New York…” That Andy….)
I had a technology related kerfuffle last week and lost an entire post to this blog. Some of you got to see it, my comparing Churchill’s speech to what it takes to make a website score big. But most of you missed it. Because, well, because of technical difficulties. That post just got eaten, plain and simple. Yes, WordPress did get back to me with an e-mail from customer support — and I tried what they said, and all that was left of my Churchillian post was a couple of shreds.
Which led me to thinking — as much as we think we’ve got this Internet thing down, we are still in the dark ages. Remember when TV’s sometimes used to have coat hangers draped in tin foil sticking out of them in an vain effort to grab a fuzzy image of Johnny Carson? In many ways, our technology is in the same place. Too many passwords. Or not enough. Dropped calls. Apps v. sites. Streaming v. writing. And consider the government trying to collect tax from cloud-based retailers? What’s that going to do?
Subscribe? Free? Open platform? Closed? Steal? Borrow? On-the-go or on-the-couch? Just remember, we are all still making it up as we go along.
And pass me the tin foil.
(p.s. — perhaps someday I’ll recreate the Churchill post — how very analog of me!!!)